The aroma of freshly brewed coffee has a revitalizing effect on the mind and body. Everybody likes to enjoy their little cup of this magical beverage, based on mood and timing — some like their “morning cup of coffee” while others enjoy it on random occasions, complemented by a piece of walnut cake or a favorite cookie. A cup of hot coffee and an amazing piece of literature, are the best companions for a rainy day.
Be it in any part of the world, coffeehouses seem to be ubiquitous structures fitted between the array of shops lined in a high-street. The banners of “Starbucks” and “Costa” have become synonymous with the picture of global coffeehouses to be found all the way from city centers to International airports. And mind you! the chains of these coffeehouses make a turnover in billions per year. Thanks to the loyal coffee drinkers!
Well! Have you ever thought of it, as to who discovered these amazing little beans, of a beverage adored by the contemporary world?. If you think it was the Europeans who introduced this invigorating drink to the world, then you are for sure mistaken.
Discovery of Coffee Beans:
One among the rather common legends associated with the discovery of coffee, is that of ‘Kaldi’ the Ethiopian goatherd, who noticed his goats getting excited and really energetic after eating the berries of a coffee plant. As the tale goes this was how coffee was first discovered in Ethiopia. However this legend was an apocryphal one, as it never appeared in writing until the late 1600s and so it might very well be a fictitious one.
The other account of the discovery of the coffee beans dates back to the 1400s and seems to be a more authentic one. One Sheik Omar who had the ability to cure the sick was sent into exile from Mocha, Yemen. While in exile, a famished Sheikh came across red berries of a shrub. He chewed on the raw berries, and was not really impressed by their bitter flavor. Hence he roasted them, but that resulted in the berries getting hardened. To soften them a bit, he brewed them in boiling hot water, which resulted in a aromatic flavored drink. By consuming the brown caffeinated liquid, the Sheikh got revitalized and survived his period of exile. The news of this rejuvenating liquid spread far and wide. Thus began the long history of the drink of coffee.
Arabic coffee- Qahwah:
The recipe of coffee we sip on today has its origins in the Arabian peninsula. It was the Arabs who first brewed the roasted coffee beans in more or less the same way it is done today, to make ‘Qahwah’— the Arabic word for coffee. The energetic drink was used by Sufi dervishes and religious people to keep them awake during their night prayers and for other spiritual acts. A distinctive feature ‘qahwah’- the Arabic coffee, is that it is made only with water, excluding milk and cream. The Arabs prefer their ‘qahwah’ to be a bit bitter. Cardamom is sometimes used as a flavoring ingredient.
Transmission of coffee:
Having been discovered in Yemen coffee slowly spread to the entire of Middle East (Persia, Turkey, Mecca) through the port of Mocha in Yemen(a huge exporter of coffee). Gradually from the Middle-East coffee spread to the North of Africa, and from thereon to Italy, Rome Greece and the entire Western world. Through the English and Dutch East Indian companies, coffee was also introduced in India and other oriental countries as well.
The first coffeehouses date back to the early 1500s and were to be found in Syria, Egypt and Turkey. Poetry and politics were discussed over steaming hot cups of coffee, the same way as is done in the present generation coffeehouses.
“The Muslim Drink”:
An interesting fact to be noted is that coffee was despised in almost the entire European part of the world as it was considered to be the “Muslim Drink”. But during the 16oos when Pope Clement VIII sipped on a cup of hot coffee, he was so impressed by refreshing beverage that he declared it to be christened in order to prevent Muslims alone from enjoying its benefits.
From Yemen to the world over, coffee spread its aromatic and flavorful wings. It assumed different names based on the alterations to the fundamental recipe: Espresso, Mocha, Latte, Cappuccino, Americano and also my favorite one being the humble South Indian “Filter Kaapi”(coffee in Indian phonetics) bringing back memories of homeland.
All coffee lovers! hail Sheik Omar for discovery of this wonderful drink. However over the recent years Yemen has dropped down in the list of the world’s highest producers of coffee: blame globalization, a depressed environment, failing climates and cheaper alternatives to the coffee bean. Brazil now tops the list of the highest producers of coffee in the world. The Western part of the world has assimilated it as one among its own, where at one point of time it was exclusive only to the Middle East.
While everyone loves to sip on a cup of coffee, not many of us know it has a long list of health benefits as well, contrary to the fact that its high caffeine content has adverse health effects in the long run. But anything consumed in moderation does no harm.